Chinese public show sympathy with film director Zhang Yimou over the huge fine of 7.48 million yuan ($1.2 million) imposed on him for violating birth control policy


Chinese Society  Updated:Thu, Jan 9, 2014 19:47 PM   By Bernd Chang


Zhang Yimou,One child policy

Zhang Yimou and his wife Chen Ting had three children before they got married in 2011. 

Acclaimed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou has gained sympathy among Chinese netizens after being fined 7.48 million yuan for breaking one-child policy.

Family planning officials in Wuxi, Jiangsu province imposed a staggering fine of 7.48 million yuan (roughly $1.2 million) on the best-known Chinese film director Zhang Yimou for breaking the country's birth control policy, Chinanews reported on Thursday.

His breach of the laws, in details, mainly lies in three facts: first, her wife gave birth to three children, two more than they are allowed; second, all their children were born out of wedlock; and third, they did not apply for the birth permit from the government before conceiving the babies. 

And Zhang Yimou must pay the fine, which is officially called Social Upbringing Fee, within 30 days.

The authorities said their calculation of the fine was based on the combined income of Zhang Yimou and his wife Chen Ting, which totaled 3.6 million yuan in the three years that his children were born.

As to how the 7.48 million yuan of fine was calculated out, People's Daily has more details:

Zhang Yimou has his Hukou, or registered household residence, in Nanning city, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, while his wife Chen Ting is registered in Binhu district, Wuxi city, Jiangsu Province. Both of them and their children do not live in where they are registered but in Beijing. Although family planning officials in either Nanning, Wuxi or Beijing have jurisdiction over them, Wuxi was authorized by superior authorities to deal with the case of Zhang Yimou violating one-child policy.


Chen Ting gave birth to three children respective in 2001, 2004 and 2006, before she lawfully married Zhang Yimou in 2011. And neither of the children was born before a birth permit, officially called Certificate of Receiving Family Planning Service (very euphonic, isn't it?), was applied by or issued to the couple.


The fine was  calculated out based on the combined income of Zhang Yimou and his wife in the respective previous year, namely in year 2000, 2003 and 2005.


In 2000, the previous year when Chen Ting gave birth to her first child of Zhang Yimou, their combined income was 2760 yuan (USD 450) , less than the average income of Wuxi resident at 11988 yuan (USD 1965) that year, and so they were fined 71,928 yuan, or six times of the average income of Wuxi residents according to national and provincial family planning laws.


In the year 2003, a year before Chen Ting gave birth to her second child, their combined income was 1,062,760 yuan, far more than the average income of Wuxi residents that year, and so they were fined 2,218,696 yuan, or  twice of their income plus eight times of the average income of Wuxi residents.


In the year 2005, a year before Chen Ting gave birth to her third child, their combined income was 2,518,590 yuan, far more than the average income of Wuxi residents, and so they were fined 5,197,230 yuan, or twice of their income plus ten times of the average income of Wuxi residents.


In total,  Zhang Yimou was fined 7,487,854 yuan for his three children.


Zhang Yimou, 61, once the bad boy of Chinese cinema whose movies were banned at home but popular overseas, has become a darling of the Communist Party of China since beginning of this century.

Zhang’s blockbuster movie Hero released in 2002 told a fictional tale about Ying Zheng, the king of Qin empire and the first Emperor of China, and his would-be assassins. The movie was widely criticized as pandering to the government by advocating autocracy. In 2008, Zhang Yimou spent millions of yuan in directing the Beijing Olympic ceremonies which was said to have dazzled the world.

Online reports surfaced last year that Zhang Yimou had at least seven children, which sparked a hunt for Zhang. Wuxi family planning office said last November they were unable to locate Zhang, sparking public suspicion that rich and influential celebrities could skirt China’s one-child policy.

In December, Zhang apologized for having three children and said he would accept any punishment.

It appears the attitude of Chinese public to Zhang Yimou has turned sharply. As the report surfaced early last year that Zhang had more children than he was allowed, almost all Chinese netizens expressed their indignation and resentment to him. But now when he apologized and was even fined a huge sum of over 7 million yuan for having three children, almost over a night, he has transferred from a beneficiary to a victim in the eyes of the Chinese public, as seen from the online comments:

QQ user 逸仙紫云: Why should Zhang be fined? What is called Social Upbringing Fee 社会抚养费?  Food, clothing, housing, transportation, going to school, seeing a doctor, isn’t any of them paid by ourselves? Does the state extend any help to raise the children? How dare the government be so shameless to collect Social Upbringing Fee from the people? I disdain it!

QQ user 莪是酷哥: Director Zhang is too honest and kind! He should not have given birth to the child in China, otherwise he would not have been exploited. The fine is sufficient to earn the children foreign residence. If they were not growing up in China, they would not pay the Social Cost of Upbringing.

QQ user 简单: I do not care how much Zhang is fined, but whose pocket the money finally gets in!

NetEase user whlxq: The family planning committee makes money easier than banks! They earn 7.48 million on one person. There must be many who are richer than Zhang Yimou and have broken the one-child policy, so they must be taking huge revenue! And the revenue comes at no cost!

NetEase user 1個好朋友 : He deserves the fine!

NetEase user 我君 : Human is born equal. The huge family planning fine is unfair. If the law stipulates so, it is the law that is at fault.

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